Collaboration in Tourism

making it work by working together

What goes into making a location appeal as a “destination”? Geographic locations can appeal to visitors for a multitude of reasons, and one thing travelers aren’t thinking about when making destination decisions is staying within county lines. Yet New York State is divided into many counties, and that is how the tourism partners within those boundaries promote themselves.

This begs the question: how do we promote tourism across an entire region, when it has so many individual moving parts?  The answer is the magic recipe called Collaboration!  Put it all in a bowl and stir lightly to create a delightful dish. Any good recipe has different ingredients that when blended together create an end result that is bigger and better than any individual component.
cny-fam-tourThe literal definition of collaboration is “to co-labor”; to labor together.  I recently had the opportunity to do just that while working with many tourism partners on a Central New York Familiarization Tour and Trade Show, which resulted in a 3-day tour across 5 counties. It ended with a Travel Trade Show in Syracuse, NY that included travel industry exhibitors participating from Convention & Visitors Bureaus, hotels, resorts and attractions from across the East Coast.

It was a huge undertaking, but with planning and disciplined leadership we were able to bring everyone together and operate at our full potential.  Our successful collaborative effort promoting an entire region included these 8 key ingredients:

Identify the team –  Who are the stake holders or partners in the region and why.

Establish a forum where open communication is a must – Round robin meetings scheduled regularly with all partners sitting at the table. Encourage question asking – no question is a stupid question.  Set up a group email so written communications to all are easily shared.

Determine the common goal – What is the objective of the entire unit? Everyone must be clear and in agreement.

Determine a budget – Make sure all partners know costs and funds available and agree to it. Identify the partner (or individual) that will be responsible to oversee it.

Identify the strengths of each partner – What are their strongest attributes and what are they able to offer?  What are the assets of each partner (or in this case county) that best compliment the end goal?

Have a defined lists of responsibilities – Who is taking charge and leading the collaborative effort?  Who is responsible for what and why?

Identify and work against an agreed upon time line – Partners have individual priorities; it’s imperative that all abide by deadlines so the group can move forward cohesively.

Commitment – A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Any lack of commitment (either real or perceived) must be addressed (but not attacked).

Working together on this project for the common goal of promoting an entire region was not just successful, it was energizing and motivating. The synergy I experienced in this collaborative effort provided an end result that is hard to surpass.

It is this type of collaboration that creates an experience for visitors, not just a trip. By blurring county lines we are helping them to see the best that we have to offer, and encouraging them to come back for more.

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